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The Dark Sahara: America's War on Terror in Africa Paperback – July 7, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0745324524 ISBN-10: 0745324525

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745324525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745324524
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jeremy Keenan is a Professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He has written many books including The Dark Sahara (Pluto Press, 2009). He is a consultant to the UN and other international organisations.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Wasily on November 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like the premise of this book, that is basically why I bought it and read it. Unfortunately, Dr. Keenan has not based his book on much fact, but more conspiracy, and a belief that the United States is smart enough to enter into a grand conspirarcy with Algeria to dupe the region. I would have liked more of a cultural analysis about the threat of the United States military entering into the Sahara and Sahel.

The argument seems to me that the United States created the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and has focused much more military attention on Africa and African terrorist threats. The U.S., especially the military, can be very naive and see national interest in a fight against terrorists such as AQIM in the Sahel, Boko Haram in Nigeria, or al Shabaab in Somalia. If you look closer, these "terrorist" groups are very small, have little traction among the local population, and are hoping that the U.S., French, UK, give them some military attention so that they can become stronger (make this a war against the U.S.). A direct attack on these groups by the U.S., can only cause more conflict. There is very little the U.S. can do against these groups as terrorists. Africans and the international community likely needs to see these groups as criminal networks, insurgencies, and on the brink of losing legitimacy. It would seem to me that the U.S. and international community has to invest in police training, rule-of-law and court system reform, building new jails and training staff to properly treat inmates. The response to a supposed "terrorist" threat is what AFRICOM senior leaders know will be funded by Congress . . . you cannot justify programs by building capacity and working on rule-of-law.

As case in point is the Obama Administration's response to the famine in Somalia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C P Slayton on April 11, 2014
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I gave this book four stars because it is worth the read. But my own personal experience and research in the same region cannot allow the fifth star. The author, Jeremy Keenan, argues that the United States not only blunders in its security approach in the Sahara and Sahel region of Africa due to ignorance, but that it directly and covertly fabricated a threat to justify military expansion.

Keenan spends the majority of this book dissecting the events of 21 Feb - 11 April 2003 when 32 European tourists went missing in Southern Algeria. Half of them were released early and the other half were released after a still very puzzling trek to Mali and through closed door negotiations and contradictory finger-pointing all around. Neither the Algerian media, the Algerian government, US diplomats, foreign press nor the tourists themselves were ever able, according to Keenan, to fill in the gaping holes surrounding the incredible events.

The author's argument, in many aspects, is very familiar today. The United States is a massive energy consumer (to say the least). Using descriptions like George Bush's "White House takeover" and the Pan-Sahel Initiative "scheme", Keenan describes how the US government strategy was to enlist military insurance on its consumption of oil. Algeria, Nigeria, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are all very valuable economic allies to feed the oil addiction. The rest of the story goes on to describe how AFRICOM, partner-nation Special Forces training and fabricated terrorist threats in the region provide a military foothold in order to plant military bases and secure oil.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Seals on January 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
Outstanding contemporary history, this has a real understanding of the North Africa I know and love so well (I lived in Libya for years). The militarization of Africa, for oil and uranium, ivory, slaves - continues with European and American colonial powers screaming non-stop about "Terrorism!" every time you turn on the television or Internet. It all reminds me of the rapacious "Manifest Destiny" in the United States, for hundreds of years heretofore, and right up to today, murdering and stealing and lying, right up to today, for Apache uranium, Lakota Sioux gold, cattle empires everywhere.

The indigenous Tuareqs for example, in Mali and Algeria and Niger, are being used by the old French colonial imperialists as targets of the islamist puritan-bigots to prove they're all "Terrorists!" so the French air force can come in and bomb their culture. Just like Custer trying to kill the Cheyennes and Sioux. Let's hope the same thing happens to the CIA/Pentagon merchants as happened to the 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn River.

For all their faults, the indigenous nomads are the good guys. They're not trying to conquer the world for "market stability".
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I learned a lot from reading this book, and learned especially how little I know of Africa. Now I'm determined to keep learning more and to share with others. My gratitude to the writer.
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13 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Emerson on January 24, 2010
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If you love conspiracies, Hollywood James Bond thrillers, and Jack Bauer in 24 you will enjoy cuddling up with this unveiling of America's imperial designs on the remote reaches of the Sahara. However, if you know anything at all about the U.S. military, the American intelligence community or the foreign policy bureaucracy of the United States you will be constantly shaking your head at Jeremy Keenan's "evidence."

This is not to say that the book fails to raise some very interesting questions as to the nature of the U.S. war on terrorism in the Sahara (and Africa in general), the potential overuse of the military as a tool of foreign policy, the misreading of the true causes of instability and insecurity in Africa, and U.S. relations with the authoritarian Algerian regime. But the complete lack of academic rigor, factual errors, and the author's personal bias overshadows any useful discourse on these weighty matters.

As one who was involved in the early days of the Pan Sahel Initiative, I can clearly say that Keenan has it wrong here. There was--and is--no great American conspiracy here. Bungling, yes. Misreading the situation at times, most certainly. Letting the Algerians drive the agenda too much, guilty. If one really desires to learn more about the trans-Sahara region and its people, I suggest they instead pick up Keenan's real classic, "The Tuareg: People of Ahaggar." Don't waste your time or money on this one.
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